Sunday, June 18, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 19

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there - to the ones who are with us still as well as those who are no longer here to celebrate. My own father died in 2004, and I think about him often, but especially on his birthday and Father's Day. My writing prompt, of course, involves dads.

What is something you never understood or appreciated about your dad until much later in life?

Dad and me 1978
It takes becoming a parent yourself to appreciate most things about your own mom and dad. Once you recognize the great responsibility you have in caring for and raising children, you begin to understand the pressure your parents were under. My dad grew up during a time where it was considered the man's job to provide for his family. Consequently, my mom never worked once they got married except for the short stint when they owned the Dairy Queen.

They went through some difficult times when their oldest son was diagnosed with aplastic anemia as a young child. In addition to all the hospitalization bills, the serum the doctors believed necessary in order to keep Roy alive came at an exorbitant cost. The family incurred a lot of debt, and in the end Roy died at the age of 7. Before he was even buried the administrative nun from the Catholic hospital was already hounding dad for money. He and mom spent years paying the hospital off.

Dad began his working career in transportation, which took our family from Cincinnati to Chicago and finally to Des Moines. When his company was bought out, he lost his job as Regional Sales Manager. How devastating and scary that must have been for him. He tried many other things after that, always involving sales in some aspect. Looking back, I believe he was a bit of a frustrated entrepreneur, not unlike his own father.


He was so pleased and proud when Jim and I began our own composting business back in 1991. I think he lived a little vicariously through our business endeavors. It was so great to be able to talk about how things were going whenever we got together. Trying to juggle jobs and family responsibilities while facing the unknown future of the company we started helped me to understand how difficult things must have been for dad when he was supporting a young family.

But I like to think that I got my tenacity and spunk from him, and I know that he would be proud of the things I have accomplished in my life. (Except he wouldn't understand the part where I wrote a book about him - he would shake his head over that.)

Thanks for all the strength and knowledge you passed on to me, dad. Happy Father's Day!





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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 18

It's not Father's Day weekend, but this topic deserves more than one post as I have a couple of people I would like to write about. Today's writing prompt is:

Who are some other important father figures who have been influential in your life?

As anyone who has been in a relationship knows, when you get involved with someone you aren't just letting "that" person into your life. "That" person comes with a bunch of other people, whether family members, friends, co-workers or whatever. You may choose your significant other, but you don't get to choose the other folks.

Jim and I come from similar backgrounds, raised in Catholic families with comparable values. We both spent most of our childhood in Iowa, though he was from a small town and I lived in the "big city" of Des Moines - population ~ 200,000. We ultimately ended up at the same university and began dating when we were 19. I met his parents shortly after that when they came to Iowa State to see a play. We went out to dinner before the show and they immediately put me at ease. When they met my parents, they all hit it off as well - an added bonus. It's hard to believe that they have known me for 42 years - more than nearly anyone else except my spouse and my siblings!

Lorraine, Gerald, Catherine and Roy, 1979
As I got to know them better, I could see that the man who was to become my father-in-law was a very special person. He valued his family and all the men who worked for him, who were every bit family to him as well. Being raised in a household of 11 children - 8 of whom were girls - cemented the importance of family, I think. In the years that I have known him he has demonstrated time and time and again the utmost love and respect he has for his wife and his children. As the spouse of his only son, I am blessed to know his love as well, as are our children.

Andy, Gerald, Lorraine and Kathryn

Early on in our marriage I found a framed poem "To My Other Mother" that I purchased for my mother-in-law one year. A recent Google search revealed that they have exchanged the word Mother for Father and sell the same poem for father-in-laws now. I decided this would be a good time to write one of my own.

From the very first moment we met
you accepted the girl I was;
the woman I was to become.
Though not your daughter
you have embraced me as one.

We don’t share the same blood
though we share the same name.
But we don’t need genetics
to prove our relationship
because we know we are family.

Our paths have intertwined
for more than four decades.
The memories we have made
are tucked away securely in my mind. 
It’s been a treasured journey.

When it comes to the in-laws pool
I definitely won the lottery.
Some women don’t even have
one man in their lives they call dad.
I’ve been blessed with two.



Saturday, June 3, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 17

For this week's writing prompt, I chose a question involving spring. It is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that it is, indeed, spring as we have just returned from Australia and New Zealand where it is late fall. Nevertheless, here is this week's writing prompt.

What do you look forward to every spring? People, places, things, events, food, hobbies, traditions?

Each spring the thing I most anticipate is the whole process of getting my annuals into the planting beds and pots at our house. I keep a master list each year of what I planted and how the various flowers and herbs performed. Then I head off to the nursery to select the plant material. I like to patronize a nearby nursery as it is owned by a local family, and they have been very generous to our schools throughout the years. I know that I could buy the same things at one of the box stores for less money, but this is my way of supporting a hometown business. The employees are knowledgable too, and have helped me with many selections in the past.

It brings me great satisfaction to put each of the new little babies in the ground, and to watch them add color and interest to the yard. The herbs add flavor to our meals and beverages, and I like being able to walk out back and pick them fresh off the plant. As the season wears on, I do grow tired of going out into the heat to water them though. I am a mosquito magnet, and so I have to wear long sleeves and jeans to water, even during the day. That takes a bit of the romance out of the whole gardening thing, especially when the heat and humidity top 90.

Because we have been gone, I am way behind on my yard work. Hopefully things won't be too picked over by the time I finally get to the nursery.

spring flowers 2016



Monday, May 29, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 16

This post is a couple of days late as I have just returned from being out of the country. Considering that fact, I knew I would have to select the following topic for my writing prompt this week.

What was the longest continuous vacation of your life? How long were you gone? Do you remember how much it cost?

My husband and I left on April 24th to travel first to Australia and then to New Zealand. This trip had been in the making for several years, and at 30 days length was the longest time we have ever spent vacationing. It was also the first time in 38 plus years of marriage that we have spent 30 days, 24/7 together! It was a good trial period for retirement.

 The destinations were ones we had talked about traveling to, but the biggest consideration was that a professor my husband had at Iowa State had relocated to Melbourne back in 1981. He had been telling us for years that we needed to come and visit him and his family. None of us were getting any younger, so we decided to make the visit happen.

We spent two weeks in Australia, visiting Sydney, Cairns and Melbourne, where we met up with the Sinatra family for a few days. From there we traveled on to New Zealand, connecting up with Paul and Kathy who joined us for the last two weeks of our vacation. Kathy and I went to high school and later Iowa State together, and Paul and Jim were fraternity brothers at Iowa State.

As I have blogged extensively about the 30 day vacation over at my Kim Wolterman blog, I won't rehash the trip here. At the moment I don't have a tally on what the entire thing cost, but you know what? I don't care. It was the trip of a lifetime for us, and that makes it priceless in my book.

Blue Mountains, Australia

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 15

Today's writing prompt is one that is near and dear to my heart.

What do you love most about where you live now? What would you change about it?

My husband and I lived in two apartments and a duplex before purchasing our first home in 1982. In addition to being small, it was located on a busy street corner. Once we had our son, we began to outgrow the house so we looked for something larger on a quieter street. We saw many houses before walking into the one where we both looked at each other and said, "This is it!"

house in 1987
We were able to see beyond the ugly mint green paint color and the flamingo pink doors. We looked around the outdated kitchen and bathrooms, the horrendous wall paper that covered nearly every wall and some ceilings, and the worn blue carpet. The stacks of papers and clutter could not disguise the beautiful bones of this aging lady. The lot was huge and shaded and just waiting for a little boy to chase balls and fireflies again. Though the house sale was going through a trust in a closed bidding process, the tiny, elderly woman who had spent nearly 50 years raising her family in the home was going to make the final decision on who would next be the caretaker. We never knew if we had put in the highest bid or the lowest bid, but the realtor said that Hazel picked us because she wanted a family to again live in the house.

house as built in 1902
What I love most about the house is its history, which I researched extensively in order to obtain a century home plaque from our city. Though built in 1902, we are only the third owners. That is pretty incredible, when you think of it. The family who built the house lived here 36 years, and the next family 49 years. We are still the new kids on the block with 30 years under its roof. Unfortunately the people we purchased the home from sold off the southern half of the lot shortly after they purchased the property in 1938, which allowed a smaller house to be built next door. The early photograph above shows a stable on that part of the land. How lovely it would have been to keep the lot whole, with native plant material.

Nevertheless, this house welcomed our family with open arms and has embraced us throughout the years. Descendants of the other two owners have come to visit, and it has been fun to hear their stories about why certain things were done to the house. We have made our own modifications to suit the needs of our family, trying to maintain the original character. We no longer need this large of a house as our kids are grown and gone. And someday we won't want to climb all the stairs. Then someone else will have a chance to make their memories and leave their mark on this aging beauty.

April 2016